Did you know that children who are exposed too unstable, chaotic environments, are at a higher risk of being bullied, and/or bullies? Domestic violence is only one example of an unstable environment.

Did you know that a very high rate of children who have been bullied, bully others? Do you agree or disagree with these statements?

  • Children learn from their role models. Aren’t we parents (or caregivers) their primary role models?
  • If one or both parents are violent aren’t we teaching our children that violence is ok?
  • We all know that violence escalates and people get hurt. People get charged, and people go to jail. Does violence solve problems? When do we decide this needs to change?

We can’t change parents who are violent or bullies in their home without professional assistance to gather evidence, lay charges, and offer services to create change. But we must help support all children who may be exposed to violence or bullying in the home. Including the children who bully. For the most part, a child’s bullying behaviors are simply signs and symptoms of what they are being exposed to. They are victims too.

Read More: Stopping the Cycle of Violence

Bullying, Domestic Violence, and Neglect

True story: I was sitting in a fast food small play area watching my 2 yr. old grandson play contently by himself. Two other older children were playing together on the opposite side. Their caregivers were talking and enjoying their time. Suddenly a woman walked in appearing to be upset as she typed fiercely on her cell phone. The little boy that followed her seemed young yet with a rather large build. I guessed him to be a 3 or 4 with the build of a 5 yr. old. I continued to observe the children play when only a few moments later the little large built boy began banging and grunting as if trying to get attention. The kids were busy and not noticing him, and the woman that was with him continued with her phone. He became louder and I began to feel concern from my grandson. Within seconds the boy lunged and shoved my grandson to the ground. He laid there stunned, shocked, but this time, physically unharmed. My first reaction was to lunge at this older child and drag him to this woman. By the time I reached him (just seconds) I realized this might be what is happening to him at home.


Numerous scenarios passed through my mind. Is this his mother? Is she abusing him? Is someone abusing her? Is she trying to run away and protect him? Is this a domestic violence situation? There are many possibilities. I did not want to assume anything. I walked the boy over to the woman engrossed on her phone. She looked up for 2 seconds, screamed at the boy, and returned to her phone. She did not acknowledge me, or the younger boy who was shoved. The large built boy cried elephant tears standing beside her without any contact from her. I now saw him as an innocent helpless child. One who is simply trying to survive. How did he learn to use his body to make noise and push? He was not talking yet but he learned to use his sound to intimidate. Whatever has happened in his few short years, his survival is to act out like a bully. I thought to myself, there is time to show him a different way. To fix this. He can still learn about safety, stability, protection, affection, and kindness.

Truth of the matter is without evidence and/or willing parents, there is nothing I can do. I imagined if this boy is consistently exposed to whatever harm he is exposed to, he will be the little boy in kindergarten pushing and shoving other children. He could be the little boy in elementary shoving in hallways, kicking in playgrounds, and stealing backpacks. He could become the little boy in junior high gathering others to bullying his targets. He could be that young man who brings a weapon to school, or the educated man who bullies his coworkers or employees.

Domestic violence is one of many explanations for why children bully. There are others.

Read More: The Hidden Victims of Domestic Violence

Getting Help

Recognize the problem and seek immediate assistance.

Contact 211 for resources that can assist you.

Create safety and security for you and your child.

Develop new skills and tools.

Programs to reduce bullying peers during school is an effective avenue to reduce present and future violence perpetration. Place the focus on the reduction of abusive behaviors and the promotion of healthy relationships.

Break the silence and talk about it.

Some parents think they are protecting their child from physical harm by teaching them to hit first before someone hits them. These parents suffered terrible beatings as a child. They do not want their child to suffer the same. This teaching practice keeps the cycle of violence turning. A cycle that inevitably damages their child and others. Violence is not the answer.

It is never too late to change the cycle of violence for your child.

Linda R. Crockett MSW, RSW
Founder of
Executive Director